Maintaining a pool can be a tricky business. There’s machinery to figure out, plumbing to keep clear, walls to keep clean, and… chemistry too? Balancing your pool chemistry might seem like a daunting task and chlorine levels most of all.

It may seem that more chlorine equals a cleaner pool, right? Well, there’s actually a happy medium to be had and we’re here to help you find it. So if you’ve accidentally over-chlorinated your pool and need a quick fix, look no further! Let’s get your pool back to its happy place.

What Causes High Chlorine Levels?

There are a lot of reasons your chlorine levels in your pool are too high. Maybe you just shocked your pool after a big backyard barbecue and added a bit too much. Perhaps you went on vacation, leaving way too many chlorine tablets in the dispenser.

Many pool owners will use a chemical called cyanuric acid in their pools to protect the chemical structure of chlorine, keeping it from breaking down as quickly from the strong rays of the sun. Adding too much chlorine with a splash of cyanuric acid is a recipe for an over-chlorinated pool.

Speaking of the sun… if your pool sits in a nice shady spot in the corner of your backyard and hardly ever gets any sun, there’s a good chance that the chlorine you are adding may not be burning off as quickly as a pool in direct sunlight. You may not have to add as much in the future to keep your levels where they need to be.

A Happy Medium

The perfect chlorine level in your pool is between 2.0-4.0 ppm (parts per million). If you’re testing several times a week, you should always find out what your levels are and adjust accordingly.

If your levels are below 2.0 ppm, your pool is not properly sanitized and you could be growing a whole host of nasty stuff in there. If the chlorine levels in your pool are above 4.0 ppm, however, it’s important that you bring those levels down within a safe range as soon as possible.

What’s the Big Deal?

If your chlorine levels are too high, you may notice that your brand new colorful swimsuit faded to a dull beige after just one dip. Elevated chlorine levels can wreak havoc on colors of all kinds. Make sure to steer clear of the pool after a trip to the salon! Too much chlorine might turn that gorgeous dye into a splotchy, discolored mess.

Chlorine is not a hazardous chemical at the right levels but too much might actually start to damage your pool cover after awhile. And what’s worse, over-chlorination can also cause some serious problems for you and your family. 

Everyone has different levels of sensitivity to chlorine but for some, it may cause eye irritation, over-dried skin and hair, and possibly even breathing problems. Excess chlorine will vaporize and form gas that floats just above the surface of the water. Inhaling this vapor can inflame airways and exacerbate certain breathing conditions.

6 Ways to Lower Chlorine Levels Fast

The good news is that if your chlorine levels are too high, time and sunlight will actually bring them down on their own. It’s not the quickest way to get results, but it’s a natural part of the chemical reactions happening in your pool and will solve the problem given time.

No matter which option you choose, the first step is to remove all chlorine sources from your pool. Turn off the chlorinator, chlorine feeder, or saltwater chlorine generator and take the chlorine tablet(s) out of the pool skimmer or floater.

1. The Natural Approach

Leave your pool/solar cover off of the pool for a couple of days and give your pool some time to process the chlorine on its own. Ultraviolet light from the sun breaks down chlorine rapidly naturally. If your chlorine levels are really high, make sure no one goes swimming until the levels have dropped back down into a safe range.

Pros:

  • It’s FREE!
  • Doesn’t require any chemicals

Cons:

  • Not a quick fix
  • It may take even longer if your pool is indoors or located in the shade.

2. Swim in the Pool!

If your chlorine levels are only a bit too high but aren’t bothersome to swimmers, an easy fix might be just swimming in the pool with your family and friends! The whole point of chlorine is to sanitize your pool water so adding contaminants (no, not your friends) to the water might do the trick.

Pros:

  • It’s FREE!
  • No chemicals needed. Just a pool party.

Cons:

  • Not a good solution if your chlorine levels are too high above normal
  • Could cause irritation for certain swimmers

3. Add Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is sold as a pool chemical oxidizer, which means it works to break down chlorine through chemical reactions. You’ll need to get food grade (35%) hydrogen peroxide that’s specifically made for pools since the human version isn’t strong enough for the task.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive and easy to find

Cons:

  • Less effective if your pool’s pH is below 7.0
  • Adding will lower your pool’s pH

4. Add Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Yep, the same stuff that boosts your immune system can solve your chlorine problems too! 

Pros:

  • No harsh chemicals
  • Works for very high chlorine levels that need to be lowered a lot (and fast)
  • Can be used on vinyl liners and fiberglass surfaces

Cons:

  • Requires a lot to be effective
  • Can get pricey, especially if you have a large pool

5. Add Sodium Thiosulfate (Chlorine Neutralizer)

Sodium thiosulfate, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, and sodium metabisulfite — also known collectively as chlorine neutralizer is one of the fastest and easiest ways to lower the chlorine levels in your pool. 

Pros:

  • Inexpensive and highly-effective option

Cons:

6. Drain & Replace Some Pool Water

Diluting your pool water by draining and adding fresh water is a great option if you only need to lower your chlorine levels by 1-2 ppm. Remember that you’re draining the other chemicals in your pool too, so make sure to do a pool water test when you’re done.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive 
  • Chemical-free

Cons:

  • May require a rebalancing of other pool chemicals afterward

Get Low, Get Low

Give one of these options a try and then wait 24 hours before retesting your pool water. No matter which option you choose, make sure to read all manufacturer instructions before adding any chemicals to your pool.

With the right approach, the high levels of chlorine in your pool will be ancient history. You’ll be back to swimming and enjoying your backyard oasis before you know it.